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Pedro Alvarez Rumors
Magic Johnson's candor about the Dodgers likely not pursuing Robinson Cano this offseason has led Major League Baseball to look into Johnson's comments, ESPN's Buster Olney reports. Officials on other teams aren't allowed to publicly discuss players who haven't officially become free agents yet, especially in cases where a player's market value could be affected. General managers around the league told Olney that "their comments were watched more closely over the last year than in any time in recent memory," so Johnson could face some type of penalty for his remarks.
Here are some news items as we end another exciting day of four playoff games…
- Joe Girardi "apparently remains torn" if he's going to accept the Yankees' extension offer or explore other manager jobs, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. The Yankees "have made it clear" that they could pull back their offer if Girardi talks to other clubs, something he's not allowed to do until the end of the month since the Yankees aren't granting other teams permission to negotiate with their manager. One such team, the Cubs, expect to learn by tomorrow if Girardi is staying in New York, a source tells Wittenmyer.
- The Pirates want to keep Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez over the long term, team president Frank Coonelly tells MLB.com's Tom Singer. Coonelly also discusses the Francisco Liriano signing, the farm system and other topics during the interview.
- "It wouldn't be shocking" if the Reds traded Homer Bailey to create some payroll space, MLB.com's Mark Sheldon opines. Bailey earned $5.3MM last season and MLBTR's Matt Swartz projects that he could earn $9.3MM in arbitration. Though Bailey has been one of the Reds' best pitchers over the last two years, he "has shown little interest in signing" a multiyear deal with the team, Sheldon writes, so the Reds could move him now before possibly losing him in free agency after next season.
- Major League Baseball has filed a motion requesting that Alex Rodriguez's lawsuit against the league be moved to a federal court, and if the move is granted, MLB will likely file a motion to dismiss the suit, Newsday's Steven Marcus reports.
- The Indians have a number of things to do before Opening Day 2014, writes Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Hoynes' list includes adding an impact bat, adding at least one quality starter, bolstering the relief corps and locking up Justin Masterson to a long-term deal.
- It once seemed unusual, but now its the norm for playoff teams to turn to inexperienced pre-arbitration eligible players, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca writes. Among the 24 pre-arb hurlers in this year's postseason are Michael Wacha, Jarrod Parker and Alex Cobb, all of whom started today for their respective teams.
MLBTR's Zach Links contributed to this post
Ryan Braun today issued his first public statements since he accepted a 65-game suspension for PED use in connection with the Biogenesis scandal. The Brewers slugger issued one statement specifically to fans and another to the baseball world in general (both links to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). The latter statement outlined the circumstances of Braun's PED usage, some of the reasoning behind his public claims of playing clean and apologized to several parties, including Major League Baseball officials, the Brewers organization, his teammates, Dino Laurenzi Jr. (the urine test collector Braun disparaged in the appeal of his initial suspension in the 2011-12 offseason), baseball fans and any supporters who believed in his innocence. The statement includes this passage:
"I understand it's a blessing and a tremendous honor to play this game at the Major League level. I also understand the intensity of the disappointment from teammates, fans, and other players. When it comes to both my actions and my words, I made some very serious mistakes and I can only ask for the forgiveness of everyone I let down. I will never make the same errors again and I intend to share the lessons I learned with others so they don't repeat my mistakes. Moving forward, I want to be part of the solution and no longer part of the problem."
Here's the latest from around the NL Central…
- The Cardinals are in need of pitching reinforcements and GM John Mozeliak is pessimistic that such help could be found on the trade or waiver market. Mozeliak told reporters (including Derrick Gould of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch) that "trying to get help from the outside is going to be difficult for multiple reasons. Right now this team is going to have to find a way to do it from within."
- The Pirates have been patient with Pedro Alvarez's development and the young slugger has at least delivered in the power department, CBS Sports' Scott Miller writes. Alvarez has a .233/.296/.482 line with a league-leading 154 strikeouts in 477 PA, but his 31 homers is tied with Paul Goldschmidt for the National League lead.
- Javier Baez is having a huge minor league season but it seems unlikely that the Cubs will call up the star shortstop when rosters expand in September. Manager Dale Sveum praised Baez's season but he told reporters (including Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times) that while the front office has the final say on Baez's future, “I don’t see it happening.” Baez, the ninth overall pick of the 2011 draft, was rated as the 16th-best prospect in the sport by both Baseball America and MLB.com's preseason prospect rankings and has hit a combined .286/.348/.581 with 33 homers, 100 RBI and 19 steals in 531 PA at high-A ball and Double-A this year. Since Baez is only 20 and hasn't hit Triple-A yet, it makes sense that the Cubs aren't yet willing to start his service clock.
- With Jonathan Broxton out for the season, the Reds make a lot of sense as a suitor for Rafael Betancourt, The Denver Post's Troy Renck opines (Twitter link). The Rockies put Betancourt on revocable waivers earlier today. The veteran closer is owed roughly $785K for the remainder of the season and has a $4.25MM club option for 2014. Renck notes that the Rockies plan to exercise Betancourt's option, and they'll explore bringing him back in 2014 even if he leaves on a waiver deal for the remainder of this season.
- Rickie Weeks' future, international signings, pitching development, the Braun controversy and other Brewers-related topics are all addressed by Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in an online chat with readers.
- In NL Central news from earlier today, we learned that the Cubs plan to go after Shin-Soo Choo in free agency during the offseason.
Both Pedro Alvarez (via agent Scott Boras) and the Pirates have expressed interest in exploring an extension for the 26-year-old third baseman, reports Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The team expects Alvarez to become arbitration eligible after this season, which would void a $700k team option for 2014 but leave him under team control through the 2016 season.
Boras said that the Alvarez camp was "open to the idea" of discussing a long-term deal over the coming offseason. Of course, he gave no indication that such a contract would come at a discount. Boras noted that Alvarez's "combination of 20 to 30 [home run] power and quality defense at third base" was a valuable commodity, and predicted that "his best years are yet to come." Alvarez smacked 30 home runs last year for the Pirates in his first full season as a regular, and posted a .244/.317/.467 slash line. He has continued to hit the long ball this year, though he has struggled to get on base (.200/.257/.406). As the second overall pick in the 2008 draft, Alvarez already netted one substantial payday when he signed a four-year, $6.355MM deal (and had his 2013 option exercised at $700k).
From the perspective of the Pirates, team president Frank Coonelly also expressed a willingness to talk, saying: "Open minds often lead to common ground and, ultimately, to agreement. We also have an open mind on these issues and will continue to evaluate seriously the merits of a long-term agreement with Pedro, just like we do with all of our young players." He did note that the team's philosophy required that free agent years be included in any such deal: "We are proponents of multiyear deals for our core players. For us, buying out free-agent years is very important. To do otherwise doesn't make much sense."
While there is much for Alvarez to prove before he earns an extension, Pittsburgh's expressed interest makes it worth a look ahead to see what Alvarez could potentially garner if he has a strong end to his 2013 season. MLBTR's Extension Tracker reveals three recent extensions for power-hitting, young third-basemen on the cusp of arbitration eligibility. Before the 2012 season, the Giants agreed to a deal with then-25-year-old third baseman Pablo Sandoval that bought out his three arbitration-eligible seasons but did not include any free agent years. The three-year deal was worth a total of $17.15MM plus incentives. Likewise, Mark Reynolds signed a three-year, $14.5MM deal with the Diamondbacks that bought out his first two arbitration years (along with one pre-arb season) and included a $11MM option on his final year of arbitration eligibility. (The Orioles did not exercise that option and declined to afford Reynolds arbitration by not tendering him a contract, making him a free agent.) The Nationals locked up Ryan Zimmerman for five years and $45MM just weeks into the 2009 season, after previously agreeing to avoid arbitration in his first season of eligibility. Effectively, the deal covered three arbitration years and two free agent seasons.
Certainly, Alvarez has not demonstrated the level of performance of Sandoval, Reynolds, and Zimmerman at the time their deals were signed. (Sandoval was coming off of a .315/.357/.552 slash with 23 home runs. Reynolds had just posted a .260/.349/.543 line with 44 homers and 24 steals. Zimmerman was just 24 and had already put up three seasons of stellar defense and strong power/on-base numbers, though he was coming off of an injury-shortened 2008.) And the Sandoval and Reynolds models seem to be non-starters if the Pirates insist on buying free agent years. Nevertheless, they could provide something of a guide for the value of Alvarez's arbitration seasons, as his big power totals and consistent playing time figure to play well in that setting.
While Zimmerman's deal is somewhat outdated at this point, it would presumably set an upper bound on what Alvarez could look for in a five-year pact. Looking outside of third baggers, the four-year, $30MM deal that the Royals gave to Billy Butler before the 2011 season could be a target for Alvarez. Kansas City also picked up a $12.5MM team option for another year. That contract covered three arbitration seasons and one year of free agency. While Butler was undoubtedly a more accomplished hitter, his DH status limited his value. (For reference, Butler was worth 1.9 fWAR in 2009 and 2.6 fWAR in 2010. Manning third, Alvarez logged 2.3 fWAR last year.)
Of course, this set of comparable players is relatively heady territory for a player with Alvarez's somewhat spotty track record. His slow start at the plate this year has been accompanied by eight errors and a .938 fielding percentage, though advanced fielding metrics peg him as above average thus far. And the Pirates have handed out only one deal to a player (Andrew McCutchen) with between two and five years of service time since their 2009 deal with Nate McLouth.
Manager Dale Sveum is prepared for the possibility that the Cubs could be sellers again at the July 31st trade deadline, Carrie Muskat of MLB.com reports. Sveum said he hopes to be in contention but will understand if the team needs to re-focus on 2014. "If your team is out of it, to start building and getting a healthier organization, unfortunately or fortunately, that's part of the business," he said. Here are some more notes from around the National League…
- Tom Singer of MLB.com explains that the Pirates would probably like to lock up core players such as Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez. While Walker would presumably like to stay with the Pirates, his hometown team, retaining him will be expensive, as Singer outlines. Alvarez, a New York native, might like the idea of playing for the Yankees in Singer's view.
- Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com hears that Kip Wells looked good throwing for Phillies people yesterday (Twitter link). Wells, who started seven games for the Padres last year, had good off-speed pitches, Heyman writes.
- Adrian Gonzalez said that he couldn't be happier to be playing for the Dodgers, Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports. "I'm really really happy and excited to be here and really excited about where the team is heading and what we have an opportunity to do here," Gonzalez said. The Dodgers acquired Gonzalez from the Red Sox in a blockbuster trade last August.
The Pirates have exercised their 2013 club option for Pedro Alvarez and declined for Rod Barajas, reports Rob Biertempfel of The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (on Twitter). The team also released southpaw Hisanori Takahashi.
Alvarez will earn $700K next season and would have remained under team control as a pre-arbitration eligible player had Pittsburgh declined the option. Barajas, 37, hit .206/.283/.343 with 11 homers this year and will receive no buyout rather than a $3.5MM salary. Takahashi, 37, was due to hit free agency so his release is just procedural. He pitched to a 5.54 ERA in 50 1/3 innings split between the Angels and Pirates in 2012.
A pivotal battle between two division rivals in the midst of a playoff race took 19 innings to complete as the Pirates beat the Cardinals by the score of 6-3. Pedro Alvarez gave Pittsburgh the lead in the top of 19th when he hit a solo shot against Barret Browning. The Pirates took the three-game series with the win and would be headed to the playoffs if the season ended today as the second Wild Card.
Here's the latest news and headlines from around the National League…
- With the Braves set to play one more series against the Nationals after this week's showdown, Atlanta realizes the importance of making up ground in D.C. starting on Monday, writes Andrew Simon of MLB.com. The Braves have a comfortable hold on the top Wild Card spot but have played well enough to make a run at the division only to be matched win-for-win by Washington. "We have the opportunity to take advantage because it seems like every time we win, they win and they don't lose very often," said Freddie Freeman. "So this is our time to try to take control of things and get a little closer."
- Nationals right-hander Edwin Jackson, a free agent after the season, would like to remain in D.C. on a deal longer than the one-year contract he signed in February, according to MLB.com's Bill Ladson. "Anything more than one year," Jackson said. "It would be nice to settle down for more than one year, for sure. I would like to [stay]. I could see myself being a part of [the Nationals], but at the end of the day, it's up to ownership."
- The battle against performance-enhancing drugs remains an uphill struggle for Major League Baseball, opines Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com. Rosenthal suggests Melky Cabrera's actions reflect a desperate person willing to resort to desperate actions as he may have viewed PEDs as the lone way to salvage his career. While there may be less users in baseball as compared to a decade ago, players are still abusing the system and reaping the benefits that Cabrera enjoyed for almost a full season, if not longer.
As if the Phillies didn't already have enough stars on the disabled list, Hunter Pence missed Monday's game due to a shoulder injury suffered diving for a ball Sunday against the Padres. The extent of the injury is yet unknown and Pence is considered day-to-day for the time being.
Some news from Monday in the Major Leagues…
- Dontrelle Willis talks to MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko about the situation that resulted in Willis being placed on the Orioles' restricted list. Willis is "almost dumbfounded" by how things unfolded, as he thought he and the O's had agreed to part ways since he was injured and not adjusting well to relief pitching. "I don't understand what's really going on. I don't know if there's been a miscommunication there," Willis said. "Not with me. I talked to my agent and we talked about it, I talked to the proper representation, I talked to Dan [Duquette] personally….It was face-to-face. I don't know what's going on. And now if I want to sign with another team, I can't."
- Kubatko hears that Willis has drawn interest from a team in South Korea and a team in Japan, but Matt Sosnick, Willis' agent, denies that his client has received any offers.
- The Marlins' signing of Ivan Rodriguez in 2003 was "money well spent," team president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest tells Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. Beinfest doesn't regret any of the moves the club made that season (even trading then-prospect Adrian Gonzalez for Ugueth Urbina) because it led to a championship. "You always hate to trade away a talent like Adrian Gonzalez. But you make it every day if you're going to win the World Series," Beinfest said.
- Cubs manager Dale Sveum hopes Rodrigo Lopez will clear waivers and remain with the organization, reports ESPN Chicago's Doug Padilla. The right-hander was designated for assignment earlier today as the Cubs added Michael Bowden to the roster.
- Pedro Alvarez's struggles inspired a discussion of the greatest draft busts in history in this mailbag piece from Baseball America's Jim Callis. Alvarez, taken by the Pirates with the second overall pick of the 2008 draft, could be "the biggest waste of hitting talent in draft history" unless he turns himself around, Callis writes.
- Twins President Dave St. Peter told Jim Memolo and Jeff Nelson on MLB Network Radio that his team needs to pitch better to recover from its 5-11 start. St. Peter suggested the Twins could move Francisco Liriano to the bullpen temporarily. “He’s an asset for this franchise and we need to get him back into a situation where he can go deep into ballgames,” St Peter said. The 28-year-old lefty faces a make or break year and it was announced today that Liriano would skip his next start and not pitch until May 1.
Links for Monday…
- The Indians are still checking around for a left fielder or center fielder, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports tweets. They'd prefer a right-handed hitter to add balance to their lefty-heavy lineup.
- GM Neal Huntington told Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that the Pirates haven't thought of sending Pedro Alvarez to Triple-A following his Spring Training struggles. "He's going through a tough stretch right now,” Huntington said. “Are we going to be able to get him out of it? We believe we will."
- Bill Shaikin of the LA Times breaks down the three remaining bidders for the Dodgers and explains that MLB is expected to approve all three this week.
- Teams have asked about Everth Cabrera, but the Padres aren't inclined to trade him, Dan Hayes of the North County Times tweets.
The Pirates put a finishing touch on their offseason yesterday, agreeing to terms with Andrew McCutchen on a six year, $51.5MM contract extension. Here's the latest on the Pirates, starting with some reactions to the McCutchen deal…
- Neil Walker told Michael Sanserino of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Pittsburgh is lucky to have McCutchen under long-term control (all Twitter links). Walker, an extension candidate himself, told Sanserino that he'd also like to sign a long-term deal with the Pirates. So far extension talks haven’t gone very far, according to Walker.
- Dave Cameron of FanGraphs agrees with Walker, writing that Pirates fans should "dance in the streets" to celebrate the contract that will keep McCutchen in Pittsburgh for his prime.
- Nate McLouth and Charlie Morton were also pleased to see the deal completed, MLB.com's Tom Singer writes.
- Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has the yearly breakdown of McCutchen's contract (Twitter link).
- ESPN.com's Buster Olney told Joe Giardina of Pittsburgh Sports Report that the Pirates are having trouble luring free agents to Pittsburgh. "They seem to be picking from just a different menu than some of the other teams," Olney said.
- Olney added that Pedro Alvarez is the most important player to the 2012 Pirates since he could break out into a star or continue to struggle.
The Rockies pick tenth in next year's draft, a pick that will be protected if they sign a Type A free agent who turned down arbitration this offseason. The latest on the team, from Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post:
- Kevin Kouzmanoff is unlikely to return to the Rockies next year. MLBTR reported yesterday that the team is in the process of outrighting the third baseman. Ian Stewart will get another shot at the third base job if he "makes baseball his first priority from the start of the winter until the end of it," GM Dan O'Dowd told Renck. The Rockies will need to make a decision on Stewart by the December 12th non-tender deadline though. Tendering him a contract probably means paying him around $2.2MM again.
- Opposing executives expect O'Dowd to aggressively pursue Mets third baseman David Wright. Otherwise Renck expects the Rockies to cast a wide net, including the Padres' Chase Headley and the Pirates' Pedro Alvarez but not free agent Aramis Ramirez. I have a hard time imagining the Padres sending Headley to their division rival; the two teams haven't matched up for an offseason trade since the Rockies' inaugural season.
- The Rockies are looking to trade Ty Wigginton even it means eating some of the $4.5MM owed to him.
- Renck reiterates that the Rockies seek an innings eater this offseason.